Canada- land of epic mountains and gorgeous landscapes. In this guide, we will focus on the west coast: Vancouver and Whistler. Vancouver has become a fun, foodie-centered city complete with beautiful views, just an hour from the mountains. Vancouver is an excellent stopover for anyone looking to explore beyond the city and we can’t wait to return.
WhistlerBlackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and it offers unlimited terrain and adventure. Winter, or summer, Whistler has endless activities from snow sports, to hiking, to zip lining and kayaking. Arguably, there is no “best time” to visit because there are so many activities year-round. The village itself is home to some of the best restaurants in Canada and even has an ice-vodka room.
Vancouver offers a lot of great choices when it comes to hotels. Choose one near Stanley Park or the boardwalk for great views and central access. Our favorite is the Shangri-La thanks to exceptional service and our favorite restaurant, MARKET.
Frankly, no matter the time, hotels in Whistler are on the higher end of the spectrum. It’s worth the splurge for properties like the Four Seasons Blackcomb, Chateau Whistler or even the Westin right at the base of the Gondola. It’s common to see 4 star hotels starting at $400 in peak season.
There are a few options for getting between the airport (YVR), Vancouver downtown and Whistler. You can take a private transfer through companies like Canadian Craft Tours, or you can take the express bus through SkyLynx or Epic Rides. The buses are about $35 per direction and tickets can be purchased directly online.
In the major cities, like Vancouver, you’ll find that many of the top restaurants are heavily focused on incorporating elements from the local area, like fine wines, local vegetables and meat. Our favorite experience was at MARKET by Jean George at the Shangri-La.
Once you get into the resort towns, like Whistler, you’ll find increased prices, but a lot of incredible restaurants. Whistler is also home to the Ketel One Vodka Room inside the Bearfoot Bistro – which is an absolute must do. We recommend booking reservations at restaurants in advance, particularly during ski season.
The birthplace of Lululemon and many exceptional sportswear brands, Canada and its resort destinations are full of outdoorsy shops. Travelers will find seemingly endless winter sports brands, activewear and gear in the resort towns.
Canadians are so friendly, the rumors are true! From our waiters at restaurants to employees at the hotels to the liftees, everyone is just happy to be alive and it’s infectious! Whistler itself is unlike many mountain towns in that it has been a luxury destination for years, bringing in highly trained service staff. This is quite different from many of the destinations in the US, where service is always on the 3-star and below side.
Vail Resorts now owns some of the top ski destinations around the world. From California to Whistler, travelers can spend their winters shredding down the largest ski resorts in North America. Check out our favorite destinations!
Both Vancouver and Whistler are certainly not cheap. You can expect to pay top dollar for 5 star hotels and experiences. You can expect to pay around $1000 per person for one week in Whistler, for example. If you’re planning to travel to Whistler for more than 4 ski days, consider purchasing a season pass through EPIC before the season starts to save.
Suggested daily budget – Typical food & beverage costs range depending on how high-end the hotel brand is, but we typically budget $300 per day for food & alcohol, allowing us the flexibility to eat the resort. Transfers to & from the hotel to the airport range as well, but we typically budget $50-100. Be sure to budget activities, both summer and winter, like ski passes and snowmobiling.
Fall is typically the best time to explore Canada, outside of the winter ski months. Fall brings great weather and low prices on hotels, tours and transportation. Whereas Spring brings rain and storms, Fall is typically dryer.
Check out some of our favorite Canada resorts and what we like and don’t like about each of them.
There is, of course, so much more to Canada than the west coast and we will be sure to update this guide as we go. But you can expect an immense selection of activities for your Canadian trip, from hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, zip lining and so much more. You’ll eat well, drink well and sleep like a baby after the outdoor excursions you leap into on your trip.